A Little Late Night Rumor Analysis

UPDATE #2: There have been shockingly few updates concerning the Heatley trade, to the point where rumors started popping up as to whether Edmonton was once again getting involved. But today we finally see a hint (or at least a rumor) at progress: the Sharks are finding themselves a little extra cap space by sending Cheech over to the Islanders. Hopefully this will allow us to recover a few of the draft picks we traded away, or even a little cheap talent. The Islanders currently have five forwards signed through the year at less than a million each: Bergenheim, Park, Tambellini, Jackman and Nielsen, as well as two relatively inexpensive RFAs. Granted,  every Islander is in no way a power house, but each of them is at least a solid role-player, and should be able to hold their own on a fourth line.

UPDATE: With the recent signing by Montreal of ex-Shark Moen, they are looking to get rid of Tomas Plekanec who is currently an RFA. Both the Sharks and Vancouver are interested, meaning he could likely be the unnamed player in the below trade. However, assuming he comes our way, the terms of the contract will be the deciding factor as to whether he is a sign-n-trade or actually nets himself a spot on the roster.

The heat is on… Or is it off? Well, its summer, so it should be coming to California.

Yes you read that right. The current buzz around the NHL is the Shark’s free agent shopping. And I am not referring to the window shopping of the last two weeks where we decided that Koivu, Gustavsson and so many others didn’t look quite right in the fitting room mirror. So now that the Fourth of July sales are over and prices just got higher—well, it sounds like Shark’s territory, doesn’t it?

So over the last few days the three most recurring names tossed around the plethora of Shark’s rumors are Heatley, Huet and Versteeg (who will likely be victimized by Chicago in a sign-n-trade). Huet and Versteeg, for the time being, have undoubtedly slipped into the background, as the rumors emanating from their clubs have faded. The one constant, however, has been Heatley who, to his close friends, has supposedly confided that from the beginning of the turmoil in Ottawa he would only wave his NMC for Vancouver and San Jose. But with an astounding $7.5 million contract, and the Canucks signing the Sedins, neither makes the best of sense (and who would want to share a locker room with those two?).

So where am I going with this? The shake up. I hate to say it, but on paper, this is a very simple equation:

Joe + Heat = Production

A talented center that draws two every time he touches the puck paired with one of the best snipers in the league sounds like a goal per shift. But is losing our only ‘star’ that can produce in the playoffs worth it? Patrick’s playoff numbers weren’t great this last season (whose were?) but it is clear that out of him and Joe, only one is even pretending to try in the post-season (and it’s difficult to act with an injury). So should we really replace him with a player who has been widely criticized for his poor leadership, meltdowns, fan-unfriendliness and unwillingness to contribute, especially on defense?

Granted, Heater probably needs a new start in a city where hockey isn’t the center stage—where the media won’t tear him apart with every comment and criticize his every move. Believe me, I am not saying it wouldn’t be productive, wouldn’t be a good move or anything of that nature. In fact, it would probably allow Heater to live up to the expectations set throughout his career while allowing us to unload Cheech and give us some cap room. But there is a lot to be said for fan loyalty, especially to our last true franchiser. And if I were asked whether it was worth trading Marleau, my obvious answer is a resounding no. But is there a way around this?

Well it looks like DW has found one (at least based on the ever increasing flood of rumors pouring out of the anonymous, I-can-say-anything-I-want-and-people-will-believe-it, internet—and guess what, I did!). It looks as if to make room, DW will be employing some of his most daring endeavors since bringing Big Joe in: a staggered trade in which the second step involves a three-way. It looks like the first will be the unloading of a little cap to a currently unknown team for a random player we have no interest in. With the new guy in our roster, we head into our menage a trois in which he is immediately unloaded, potentially with Cheech, Ehrhoff, Milan and the little we have left in our farm system to Ottawa and an unannounced third team, in which we receive a pick (maybe), Picard and the Heater.

But here is where this gets interesting. Currently, the rumored third team is LA, which would result in something like this:

  • To SJ: Heatley (from Ott), Picard (from Ott), 3rd round pick 2011 (from LA)
  • To LA: Cheechoo (from SJ), Erhoff (from SJ), Unnamed player from first trade (from SJ)
  • To Ott: Michalek (from SJ), Teubert (from LA), potentially a pick (LA)

Which then leaves the following depth changes for next year’s roster:

  • San Jose: Gains Heatley, depth d-man and pick up roughly $2 mil in cap relief (putting them roughly $2.6 mil under the cap + whatever we got rid of from the first trade to fill out the roster, meaning $700k+ per player rather than $250K)
  • Los Angeles: Gains top 6 forward and top 4 d-man. Still leaves them with roughly $5 mil in cap room and an improved roster.
  • Ottawa: Gain top 6 forward, potential top 4 d-man and gain roughly $3 mil in cap space (putting them about $1.1 mil under the cap total)

But why would LA ever assist in our obtaining of Heatley, especially without requiring us sacrifice any of the ‘essential’ talent? That wasn’t hypothetical, I really don’t know.

After looking into the deal it would shave an estimated $2 million the Shark’s cap and give it to LA (who has room to spare and needs the extra upper-line depth on both sides of the ice). So now we have to ask ourselves the tough questions. Would it work financially? Yes. Would it work in regards to talent? Yes. Would Lombardi be an idiot for allowing it? Yes. Will the eighth seed still take us out first round? Probably. But hey, tricking LA into helping us beat them a few more times during the regular season is just as good as the cup, right?

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~ by mitchsolomon on July 10, 2009.

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